Rivoli has long been known as one of Toronto’s premier multi-level venues, bars, clubs and restaurants that attracts international acts.
Adele played her first Canadian show and Blue Rodeo played their first show ever here, and it’s been known to host such well-known performers as Iggy Pop, Dave Grohl and Kids in the Hall. It’s topped by their own billiards hall, one of the best in Toronto.
This place had the same owners for 34 years until friends who’d been working there for years Jenna Wood, Jessica McHardy and Sarah Henning took over, redoing all the seating, floors and bar.
The main floor is roughly split into two halves. The vibe is casual overall, but there’s a more complete full-service dining area on one side and a more lounge-y bar area on the other.
When the weather is warm the patio facing the busy sidewalk is super popular.
Past this latter side is the back room venue space where all performances take place. Take note, there’s a $20 minimum when it comes to using debit or credit back here.
Wookie Balls ($8) are a Rivoli classic, basically a deep fried sticky rice ball coated in black and white sesame seeds and served with a sweet chili sauce. They’re salty and stick to your ribs for such a small quick snack, perfect for laying a foundation for some drinks.
The pad thai ($15) is another mainstay that isn’t going anywhere, a pretty ketchup-y, greasy version of the favourite but like the Wookie Balls it does the trick, providing a quickly crushable and reasonably taste bar meal. The standard version here comes with the chicken and shrimp, but of course you can make it vegetarian.
Signature cocktails ($12) are Toronto all the way, with names like Champagne Papi (cognac, grapefruit cordial, sparkling), Old York Fashioned (with blackberry whisky), Bellwoods Sangria, Sex on Cherry Beach and the Jose Blue Jay (tequila, blue curacao, hibiscus).
Toronto Island Iced Tea combines green tea vodka, gin, tequila, rum, Cointreau, lemon and ginger beer for an appropriately boozy, summer-y and slightly spicy take on the iconic cocktail.
On weekdays mains are served until 11 with snacks until midnight, and on weekends mains are available til midnight and snacks are served until 1 a.m. There’s open WiFi, a few TVs in the bar area and music events aren’t all that happens here.